A Christian miracle remains an important part of its doctrine. The arguments for and against whether a miracle can or not still occur cannot be entirely & successfully argued in my simple blog. But here are my thoughts so far (much more formative now, after 3 years & 8 months have passed).
David Hume, the Scottish Philosopher, Economist, Historian better known today for Naturalism and Skepticism defines a miracle as a ‘violation of the laws of nature‘. Later he adds that a miracle is “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent”. In essence, he would reason that Miracles do not happen in a natural world.
C.S. Lewis, the famous British novelist & atheist turned Christian would define a miracle in Theological terms as an observation – “an interference with Nature by supernatural power“. By his definition, a miracle doesn’t break the law of Nature – those laws continue to apply. It interrupts the course of Nature – for instance in the Virgin Birth, a miraculous spermatozoan would impregnate a Virgin and the usually natural laws of nature continue. By this definition, Lewis argues that miracles occur relatively commonly today (at this point of time I fail to understand that point).
Next ‘miracles’ come in different shape, sizes and definitions. For instance, you have the special miracle stories crucial in Christian doctrine – we can name a few important ones like Jesus calming the storm, Feeding of 5 thousand with 5 Loaves of bread and 2 fish and Jesus turning water to wine in the New Testament. We haven’t even started on the Old Testament ones – what with Balaam the talking donkey Exodus and then miracles of epic proportions – Parting of the red sea, the Exodus and of course Creation in itself.
I wouldn’t deal with ‘small’ miracles like finding a carpark lot after a short prayer while others are still aimlessly circling the entire carpark. Those don’t qualify – by far! Neither am I talking about God apparently making you wake up late so you weren’t involved in that road traffic accident (as you may have more likely so if you had gone to work at the exact same time). What about the other chap in the accident who ‘took your place! So no ridiculous small scale miracles that can easily be explained many time around.
The Miracle of concern in this short blog refers to those needed by the truly sick and incurable – advanced cancer, true incurable degenerative neurological diseases and serious childhood liver / lung / heart diseases that invariably to death in early life. Do they still happen? Or did they ever happen? Similar examples during Jesus’ healing ministry are also good – those who are truly legally blind and those truly lame (a modern example would be someone totally paralysed by an accident such that he evidently has not been walking for years).
At this point, it would be good to bring in the Miracle cures claimed by Prosperity Gospel Healers and demonstrated at their healing crusades. Such faith healers are definitely making huge claims – take a look at their crusades on YouTube. It is crucial to address them as they name and claim in God’s name, live in it’s wealth generated and continue to do so without any apologies. Take a look at this NBC’s expose on Benny Hinn and you will understand what I am talking about – false healing / prophets. I am still at a loss of words to such false teachings as they are deceptions at the highest levels and yet the guilty continue to prosper. Read this article by Justin Brierley – his night with Benny Hinn. It’s one of the better articles out there.
It is these ‘Healing miracles’ which are the real deal. Millions of such people round the world need them today (or they would otherwise die) while Jesus performed numerous such miracles cures when he graced this earth. He raised the dead (Lazarus), made the lame walk again and caused the blind to see.
What is typical about these is that are they are instantaneous.
Another important difference from Christ healing is this. In John 5, at the pool of Bethesa, there were crowds of lame, blind & paralysed. Yes, that is the very kind of sick I am talking about. Not symptoms like back pain, arthritis (this is such a general medical diagnosis) or headaches. Such diagnosis are vague, filled with a substantial subjective component such that skeptics like Derren Browne would easily debunk them and make you look like a gullible fool. Interestingly, Jesus only chose 1 out of the whole lot. Unlike Benny Hinn, Jesus chose one that had not been walking for over 38 years. Benny Hinn, in contrast, has numerous people stumbling onto his stage sick, then walking out rejuvenated claiming to be healed and jumping around! They remain vague and unsubstantiated.
There are some helpful books you may want to read – Miracles by Eric Metaxes, Encounters with Jesus by Timothy Keller, Against the Flow – John Lennox, Miracles – Craig Keener, Miracles – a prelimanry study, C.S. Lewis and Unbelievable, Justin Brierley.
As it stands, I think a Miracle of Biblical / epic proportions is extremely difficult to witness, come-by or experience. I am one of the last persons who wants to say that as I see myself gradually deteriorating with time. Having said that, I experience how my family grows and reacts positively in our relationship with each other – the now already priceless interactions and bonds that otherwise would not have come into existence.
Right now, I continue to hold on to my faith as I recognize that our God Jehovah is Sovereign, his ways remain mysterious indeed and he is often silent (in human terms). I still pray for that miracle. It is still very difficult, more so, as each day passes. But I learn to treasure my family and true friends.